This is illustrative and instructive in understanding the mindset of progressives. At least to a degree. If you live in the real world, you'll never fully understand progressives. But we can go pretty far in our endeavor. Much further than most people realize. For example, Herbert Croly writes in his book "Progressive Democracy" the following: (Page 362)
In the past the administration of the civil law, except through the agency of the courts, was of small importance, because the law was supposed merely to recognize and interpret customary ways of economic and social behavior. But when the chief object of legislation is to carry into effect an experimental social program, the administration of the law has a different and more responsible function. Legislation is being used as a means of modifying social behavior, not social behavior as an excuse for formulating legislation. The legislator has become an innovator. He is dealing with an extremely complex and elusive material, and it is most difficult for him to define in advance how the objects of the law are best to be realized. The difficulty of the job has not prevented him from very frequently trying it out ; but he has learned something from his failures. He is learning that an extremely detailed and comprehensive statute is usually ineffective, because of the impossibility of anticipating all the conditions which affect the operation of a specific rule. Social legislation is coming more and more to demand results rather than prescribe means. Statutes are being passed in the interest of the safety of employees in factories, which merely define safety as such freedom from danger to life and health as the nature of the employment will reasonably permit. The duty of drawing up a set of regulations which will provide sufficient safeguards for the life and health of the operatives is intrusted to a commission. All that the legislature does is to declare that industrial employment shall be reasonably safeguarded. The commission makes a comprehensive investigation of the conditions upon which the health and safety of the industrial employees depend and it issues orders based on the result of its investigations. These orders can be attacked in the courts, but in adjudicating the case the courts have to accept as final the commission's record of the facts.
I'm sure most of you saw it, because you couldn't miss it. He just described Obamacare. Why is Obamacare 3000 pages long? Because the entire thing is a lead in to massive regulation. Commission after commission after commission, layer of control after layer of control. Forbes reported last October that "So far, more than 13,000 pages of federal ObamaCare regulations have been issued". And that's just the beginning. 3000 pages = 13000 pages, at a minimum.
Croly is surprisingly honest in this part of the book with the following line:
But when the chief object of legislation is to carry into effect an experimental social program, the administration of the law has a different and more responsible function. Legislation is being used as a means of modifying social behavior, not social behavior as an excuse for formulating legislation.
That's social legislation. It's experimental legislation which is designed to get people to change their behavior. Now I'm sure may of you knew full well that a lot, if not most legislation has that goal. But now you know that it actually has a name. That's not legislation, it's social legislation.
Croly uses the line about results and means, which really isn't all that different than "means and ends". For a lengthy examination into the progressive view of means and ends, see Saul Alinsky's book Rules for Radicals, Chapter 3. I'll just summarize it this way: "If the end is what you want, then the means is how you get it". In this case, the means is social legislation. Croly even makes the point that the courts are powerless against social legislation. Keep in mind that Croly wrote all of this in 1915. But you and I have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. I'll ask you the question:
Have the courts been powerless in the face of social legislation?
The clear answer to this is yes. We've lived it our entire lives. Because these statues do not contain "detailed and comprehensive" wording and measures, what exactly is it that they are violating? Now, sure, from a strict constitutional standpoint, the role of congress and the role of the president are clear and defined. But the courts made sure to get rid of that. Last November I wrote this, detailing portions of the role of the courts in progressivism. The important thing is Taft's 1928 ruling:
If Congress shall lay down by legislative act an intelligible principle to which the person or body authorized to [exercise the delegated authority] is directed to conform, such legislative action is not a forbidden delegation of legislative power.
See. It's constitutional for congress to pass social legislation in which the power is delegated to the executive and a commission. The point of social legislation is meant to create a vehicle for commissions and regulatory bodies. But to what end? Once the regulatory body takes over to run the show, what kind of regulations should they implement?
They should implement social regulations. Again, with the word "social" appended. John Dewey, in his essay "The Social Possibilities of War" explains that:
To dispose of such matters by labeling them state socialism is merely to conceal their deeper import: the creation of instrumentalities for enforcing the public interest in all the agencies of modern production and exchange. Again, the war has added to the old lesson of public sanitary regulation the new lesson of social regulation for purposes of moral prophylaxis.
And of course, "the supremacy of public need over private possession". Now, does Obamacare do this? It does. Did the courts uphold Obamacare? Absolutely. Just as Croly knew they would. But is Obamacare a vehicle for regulation? No. It's a vehicle for social regulation. They don't want general regulations that make common sense. They want social regulations for the purpose of moral prophylaxis - the supremacy of public need over private posession. Centralized planning. Bureaucratic despotism.
Just as the believer in "social justice" doesn't like "justice", it can be said that the social legislator doesn't like legislation, they only like social legislation. The why is clear: total and ultimate power to centrally plan society. And the social regulator, just like the social legislator, also wants to conduct experiments via regulation(and legislation, respectively) in order to see just how far they can go and what you will accept.
If you want to put an end to progressive social legislation, then it might make sense to start looking toward an overturn of J. W. Hampton & Co. v United States - or at least that portion of the ruling which enables centralized planning.